In the early 1900s, the Hudson and East Rivers were bustling with maritime activity. There was very little harmony and cooperation between New York and New Jersey. The two states frequently fought over jurisdiction rights on the mighty Hudson River. After years of political negotiation, a compact between the two states was signed in 1921 and created The Port of New York Authority. The agency was given a broad mandate to develop and modernize the entire port district.
In 1948 the Port Authority assumed responsibility to operate Port Newark. The two World Wars and Great Depression had taken a toll on the port and it was greatly in need of repair.
By 1951, Port Newark had become a modern terminal with 21 berths and a deepened 35-foot channel able to accommodate the largest ships at that time. On April 26, 1956, a date that many in the shipping industry hail as the berth of the modern maritime era, the Ideal X – pioneered by the McLean Trucking Company -- was rigged for an experiment to use standardized cargo containers that were stacked and then unloaded to a compatible truck chassis.
The port handled record tonnage in the early 1950’s as the agency’s improvement and modernization investments led to higher rates of employment, tenant occupancy and new business development.
On August 15, 1962, the Port Authority opened the world’s first container port, Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal (the photo above shows the site in 1958, just before construction started). Elizabeth became known as America’s Container Capital.
Since 2000 the Port Authority has invested $2 billion to prepare the region’s port for future growth. Today the Port of New York and New Jersey is the third largest port in the nation.